Monday, November 30, 2009

November 2009 Niagara Trip: 6 Tasted of 6

When we relocated to Burlington in 2000 it was following a couple of trips through the Okanagan, first on our way to a new home on Vancouver Island and them on our return to Ontario eight years later. We didn’t realize between the going and the coming that BC wines had patterned our palates - from a European old world style molded by years of wines purchased from the Opimian Society to a brighter fruit-biased style. We had started drinking Okanagan followed by New Zealand, Chilean, Australian and Argentinan wines. Niagara, at the time, was neglected as most wineries visited during our Ontario days had left us confused as to style of wines and terroirs.

On return, one of our first visits to Niagara Peninsula was to tour the Malivoire (View It!) winery in 2001. Located in Beamsville (Map It!) and on the slope of the Escarpment, Malivoire was one of the first gravity flow or Newtonian wineries in Niagara. We enjoyed tasting their early releases combining them with tasty hors d’oeuvres. My impression was of full-bodied oaked reds, oaked Chardonnays and full Pinot Gris with soft fruit and herbaceous spices. Our case of 1999 Old Vines Foch (Canadian oak) purchased in 2001 mellowed nicely becoming an excellent red when retasted just this year (92). The Moira Chardonnay 2000, initially full flavoured, in 2005 didn’t fare as well as cellaring turned butterscotch into burnt caramel and ‘herbaceous’ into straw. Much the same with the 2001 Chardonnay and the 2000 and 2002 Pinot Gris, purchased in 2001 and 2003 resp. when retasted in 2005 and 2006.

Prompting my trip last Sunday was the recent General listing of two Malivoire LCBO blends simply called ‘Red’ (90) and ‘White’ (92). On this visit each of the Malivoire’s wines tasted were much lighter with a silky mouth feel. The fruit was fresher, softer and had a depth warranting slow sipping or serving with milder foods. Time will tell how they cellar. I tasted four white and four reds, including two Ice Wines. The following were purchased for more casual sipping and for my BH to contribute her opinion.

Cheers, Ww

  • Malivoire White 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 92-3 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #141531 $14.95
  • Malivoire Gewurztraminer Ice Wine 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-1  -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery $35.05 
  • Malivoire Cabernet Franc Ice Wine 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, 91-1 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #685602 $35.05
  • Malivoire Chardonnay 2007 VQA Niagara Escarpment, 90-2 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #573147 $19.95
  • Malivoire ‘Guilty Men’ Red 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 86 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery $19.95
  • Malivoire ‘Estate Bottled’ Pinot Noir 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, 79 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #996777 $24.95
(O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


MALIVOIRE ‘GUILTY MEN’ RED 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #Winery $19.95 (Tasted December 1, 2009)

Described by the Winery as “Spicy plum, black cherry and cedar on the nose. The mouth feel is round and smooth, awakening the palate to flavours of raspberry, black currant and dark chocolate. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 35%, Merlot 35%, Pinot Noir 15% and Gamay 11% and Cabernet Franc 4%. Hand harvested, each variety was fermented separately in stainless steel and oak. Each small lot was then aged in French and American oak for an average of 7 months.” My notes: Perfumed aromas (like a server wearing cologne): powerful at first pouring tapering to a blend of violets, cedar, raspberry and blackberry. A thin film and fast tears, transparent in the glass giving a cheerful ruby glow and a first sip that is silky smooth with soft tannins and tangy edge. The finish fades slowly taking most of the fruit leaving a slight oil and some spice. This could be popular in a mixed crowd: not likely staunch red drinkers tho’. I found the aroma crept through the flavours and detracted from a meal of meatloaf, green beans and baked potato - better paired with rosemary’d lamb. Was OK but a tad thin next day with a grilled steak.  A drink now.  86

MALIVOIRE ‘ESTATE BOTTLED’ PINOT NOIR 2006 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.5% D, #996777 $24.95 (Tasted December 2, 2009) CS

The Winery says “A traditional Pinot Noir, red cherry and forest floor aromas are followed by complex flavours of sweet cherry pie, citrus, dried tobacco, clove and juniper twig. Medium-bodied with soft tannins, this wine finishes long, creamy and fresh.” My notes: A see-through ruby, clean and clear in the bowl with delicate, earth tainted scents of blueberry and cherry. Thin on the first sip with fine tannins and a light acid underpinning faint flavours of beetroot, red cherry and blueberry. Medium-bodied finishing with a warm, earthy reminder of the fruit. Serve cold it’s a mild mannered sipper although having little of interest - a red to have with a salmon steak, breast of chicken seasoned with herbs de province. Nicely made. Perhaps cellaring a few years it will improve? Perhaps already on the decline?  79

MALIVOIRE CHARDONNAY 2007 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #573147 $19.95 (Tasted December 1, 2009) CS

Described as “ Although more oak was used than in previous years, fruit dominates. Aromas and flavours abound, suggesting pear, baked apple crisp, maple, candied orange and nutmeg. Well balanced, this full-bodied wine explodes with flavours, making way for a long, crisp finish.” My notes: A thin film with fast forming tears makes this a medium-bodied chardonnay with a pleasing smoothness to the first sip. Serve chilled and allow to go off chill, ~14C for a delicate nose of stone fruit and baked apple. This has a light golden colour, very crisp in the bowl and flavours include baked apple, maple for sure, a roundness while any sweetness is nicely balanced with a soft acid that persists through a long finish. A distinct Escarpment chardonnay with a light French oak butterscotch supporting the fruit. Have with lightly flavoured fish dishes, crab, lobster or scallops as well as being a polite sipper. Should cellar for a few years.  90

MALIVOIRE CABERNET FRANC ICE WINE 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 10.0% S, #685602 $35.05 (Tasted December 11, 2009) CS

Described as “These grapes were hand harvested by friends of Malivoire at -12°C in the late evening hours of December 22nd, 2008 and pressed well into the next morning. Pressed in vertical basket presses delivering juice at 37.5 ° brix. This juice was then fermented cool in stainless steel.” My notes: There’s an amber glow and firm film with slow tears to an aromatic blend of caramel and taffy apple. The sweetness arrives with the first sip coating the palate with flavours of extra sweet apple, plum and slight liquorice. Lasting into a long finish with fruit ’til the end this makes a perfect pre-dinner appetizer by itself then after dinner for dessert altho’ I’d say ’a little bit goes a long way’ with this one. I suggest cellaring for several years to soften the sugars a touch letting more of the grape to shine.  91

MALIVOIRE GEWURZTRAMINER ICE WINE 2008 VQA Beamsville Bench, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.0% S, #Winery $35.05 (Tasted December 14, 2009)

Described as “The great 2008 vintage provided an abundance of concentrated flavours and aromas to be extracted from the grapes once frozen. These grapes were hand harvested by friends of Malivoire at -12°C in the late evening hours of December 22nd, 2008 and pressed well into the next morning. Pressed in vertical basket presses delivering juice at 39 ° brix. This juice was then fermented cool in stainless steel.” My notes: A glistening old gold colour and aroma of sultanas and apricots, tingly on the nose. Flavours carry the aroma coating the palate with luscious, honeyed fruit, middling thick and refreshingly spiced. Serve chilled for easy sipping as an aperitif or as an after dinner/dessert relaxer. The finish is enduring and endearing. Sweet? Yes! But that’s to be expected of an icewine. 91

MALIVOIRE WHITE 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0% D, #141531 $14.95 (Retasted December 1, 2009) CS

My notes: A blend of 80% Chardonnay, 15% Riesling and 5% Gewurztraminer and tasted this past October so I thought I’d check the rating at the time(Ww92). Serve chilled, ~10 - 12C. A delicate aroma of vanilla and orange blossom greeting the senses makes this a crowd pleaser. A light golden, crystal and crisp in the glass with firm film and legs that develop slowly followed by a first sip having a round mouth feel, a tinge of sweetness, a tang of tart, stone fruit and lime flavours. The long, warm taste and smooth finish is also appealing - pluses all around. Cellaring for a year should be OK - drinking well now. 92

MALIVOIRE ‘ANNE’S RECIPE’ ROSEMARY WINE SYRUP, Beamsville, Ontario, 0.5% MS, #Winery $9.00 (355mL)

Produced for the Malivoire Wine Co. from ‘Fine wine, sugar, cider vinegar, herbs and spices’.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Toronto Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2009

Lots of walking, lots of talking and sampling made the trip exhausting. Left on the 12:13 Burlington GO train arriving at Union Station at 1:00, down stairs, across the tunnel, up stairs entering the VIA area and searching for the direction to the Skywalk and a twenty minute hike to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South building.
There was the start of a crowd at the Ticket sellers. 20 tickets for $20. Paper always softens paying for samples of food, drinks and everything else being offered. It’s much easier to separate the tear strip on several tickets rather than separating me from my supply of loonies and toonies as my visit continued - November 22nd.

Most of the ’Tutored Tastings’ - Gord Stimmell, Billy Munnelly, John and Zoltan Zsabo, Christopher Waters and several others - were sold out. It's good to see local talent can fill the seats. I wasn’t here for classes though… just the wines.

My first impression was one of ’where’s the wine?’ as seemingly endless beer stalls line aisles near the entrance. Continuing to the end , turn right, more beer stalls now intermixed with aromatic foods, an aerator booth, olive oils, cheeses, Mott’s Clamato Caesar school and Palm 3G booths.

Continuing past the Vines booth and Fine Wines Tasting Lounge I found the centre core aisles filled with sampling islands - clusters of Agency serving counters - representing wines from Ontario, Chile, California, Australia, Argentina, France and the theme country, Portugal.

My tickets were being doled out two or three at a time now for tastings of labels some new to me. Wines were less than $20 a bottle and many less than $15. Some I recognized from Vintages but most from the General shelves. All servers were gracious and most were familiar with the wines and wineries. Some were sitting in for an agent on break - it was likely the lunch hour, time to have nourishment before the afternoon rush.
Having tasted DeLoach Cabernet CS, Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc CS, Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne CS, Château des Charmes Sparkling CS, Montes Alpha Syrah CS, Domaine Galean Paroles de Femmer Côtes du Rhône, Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc CS, J P Chenet Pinot Noir CS, Misterio Malbec CS, several other 3 ticket wines, a $60 Amarone and a $30 Pinot Noir I came away with no purchases and no recommendations. After a 5 ticket portion of tender, tasty beef from Canyon Creek I headed for the Exit.

It was an interesting trek. Next year’s Expo will be November 18 - 21.
Cheers, Ww

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

goLOCAL, Promo 2009: 4 Tasted of 4

The second Promo in a week and one exclusively featuring four distinct VQA products: a red, dry white, a bubbly, and a sweet aperitif/ dessert wine. Encouraging patrons to ’Give Local’ during the Holiday season the glossy claims “our wine experts have hand-picked…” and yet a note tells us “This advertising is paid for in whole or in part by participating suppliers”. Seems like a collaborative effort with winery expense dollars and LCBO profit. And of the four, there’s limited stock in local outlets and none of the Château des Charmes bubbly nor the Strewn product. I’ll search again nearer the end of this month. Also there’s likely to be more wineries represented on the goLOCAL shelves at most Outlets and I welcome the theme of supporting the local wine industry at any time of the year.  Cheers, Ww
  • Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Sparkling Wine NV VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, 92-2 -- G, Beamsville, Ontario, #145409 $22.95 
  • Malivoire Red 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 90-2 -- G, 2008, Beamsville, Ontario, #141523 $14.95 
  • Strewn Select Harvest Vidal 2007 VQA Ontario, 90-2 -- G, Beamsville, Ontario, #107219 $15.95 (375mL)  
  • No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Riesling 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 85 -- G, Jordan, Ontario, #144865 $14.95 
(G - General listing, V - Vintages, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value)


MALIVOIRE (Map It!) RED 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #141523 $14.95 (Tasted October 4, 2009) CS

A General listing described by the winery as “An inviting nose of raspberry, cherry, vanilla and cedar emerge from this blend of 45% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Gamay. The palate greets you with flavours of plum, black currant, dark chocolate and a long finish.” My notes: A deep ruby regal in appearance, a nose of subtle black cherry and spice, and a firm film with few slow legs all make this attractive in the glass. The first sip also has subtlety in its flavours along with a smooth texture and bright edge, medium-bodied. The finish starts mellow fading slowly as red cherry and plum mix with fine tannins, cedar and dryness that leaves the mouth refreshed. Have with grilled T-bone or rack of lamb, beef tenderloin or a seared pork chop - a flexible, polite red. Young yet and could cellar for several years increasing in complexity. Gets points for potential. 90

No. 99 WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATES (Map It!)  RIESLING 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 11.3% D, #144865 $14.95 (Tasted September 23, 2009) CS

A General listing described as “… bright, crisp white made from Ontario’s signature Riesling grape… “. My notes: Purchased from the Winery this lower tiered Riesling is a soft clear blond colour and has a delicate honey, grapefruit and nettles scent on pouring that dissipates quickly then returns as the chill mellows (or as the glass empties). A soft roundness, some grassiness and a tinge of orange makes this white a reasonable sip. The finish is smooth with sufficient body, a lemon tang and a dry grassy edge to pair with grilled arctic char slightly lemon’d and greens of baby arugula and water cress. A drink now. 85

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES (Map It!) ESTATE BOTTLED SPARKLNG WINE NV VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.0% D #145409, $22.95 (Tasted December 6, 2009) CS

A General listing described on the back label as “crisp and citrusy with notes of lime, lemon and toasted bread. … creamy texture…” My notes: Following the Méthode Traditionnelle means the blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir grapes is bottle fermented and bottle aged ‘sur lie’ for at least two to three years. (Jane Nickles explains more in a Sidebar video). Finally a few bottles showed in our area and was well worth the wait. A flood of bubbles quickly settles to a steady stream and an intense spritz. Scents of lemon, lime and a delicate toast are enticing until the first sip feels the full spritz and flavours that follow the nose adding a touch of yeast and cream. The long finish is tangy thoroughly cleansing the palate making this a pleasing accompaniment to a fresh oyster plate, a celebratory toast or a pick-me-up after a long day’s shopping - any excuse to have for breakfast, lunch and a dinner. 92

STREWN (Map It!) SELECT LATE HARVEST VIDAL VQA Ontario, Beamsville, Ontario, 12.8% MS, #107219(375mL) $15.95 (Tasted Decmber 8, 2009) CS

A General listing described in the goLOCAL Promo as “…. subtle scents of honey and apricot… open the evening as an aperitif, a holiday dessert. Great with savoury cheeses and nuts.” My notes: A crystal golden colour in the glass with an inviting pear, raisin and honey aroma. A solid film with lots of slow tears followed by strong flavours of honeyed pear forming the base of a spicy bite that wakens the taste buds. A few sips later and the spice mellows with sweet fruit both lingering through a long finish. Was excellent with a mixed nut tray as a pre-dinner sipper or a substitute for dessert following soy and ginger grilled salmon. Drink now or cellar for a few years for more lusciousness. 90

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holiday, Promo 2009: 5 Tasted of 5

A very entertaining Promo arrived with my Saturday G & M. There’s enough inside to satisfy everyone: ideas for placecard holders, napkin ring cookies; recipes for starters, salad rolls, biscotti, roast potatoes and… wait for it…DRINKS! All for the Holiday season with wines and spirits brought to Ontarians by LCBO’s VP of Merchandising and resident chief expert on wines, beers and spirits, Shari Mogk-Edwards (SM) and VP of Vintages, Tom Wilson (TW).

Of the thirteen grape based products I’ve dropped four that were outside my Holiday budget of $20. I also dropped wines rated by local critics at 85 or below as well as some past vintages tasted and given a similar rating. Five remain for tasting.

Each Outlet may have additional products offered as part of this Promo. Very likely they’ll be featured along with gift wrapped or boxed multiples on their many impromptu display ‘islands’. It’s that time of the year. Time to offer bargains and to clear old inventory. I wish you luck separating values from plonk. Ho, Ho, Ho! Cheers, Ww

Wines selected: 
  • Malivoire Red 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 90-2 -- G, Niagara, Ontario, #141523 $14.95
  • Masi Campofiorin ‘Rosso del Veronese’ 2006, 88-1 -- G, Veneto, Italy, #155051 $17.45 (SM)
  • Bouchard Pere & Fils Grand Vin de Bourgogne Petit Chablis 2007, 88-1 -- G, Burgundy, France, #051466 $19.90 (SM)
  • Flor de Crasto 2007, 85 -- G, Douro, Portugal, #089870 $10.95
  • J. Lohr Estates ‘Arroyo Seco’ Chardonnay 2007, 83 -- G, San Jose, California, #258699 $19.05* (SM)  
Wines dropped:

  •  No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Cabernet Merlot 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, G, Niagara, Ontario, #075689 $15.95 (SM) 
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut NV, G, Penedes, Spain, #088591 $13.95  
  • Cave Spring Riesling Dry 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, G, Niagara, Ontario, #233635 $14.25 (SM) 
  • Frescobaldi Chianti Rufina Nipozzano Riserva 2006, G, Chianti, Italy, #107276 $19.75 (SM) 

Outside the Holiday budget: 
  • Muga Reserva Rioja 2005, V, Rioja, Spain, #177345 $24.95 (TW) 
  • Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, V, California, USA, #352583 $39.95 (TW) 
  • Chandon Brut Classic NV, G, California, USA, #094946 $24.90 (SM) 
  • Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Rose NV, G, Champagne, France, #019661 $77.10 (SM) 
(G - General listing, V - Vintages, * - sale priced, r-v - Rating-Value)

BOUCHARD PERE & FILS GRAND VIN DE BOURGOGNE PETIT CHABLIS 2007, Burgundy, France, 12.0% D, #051466 $19.90 (Tasted November 15, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale straw colour; green apple, pear, citrus and minerals with touch of almond on the nose; dry, crisp and clean with a hint of clove and a long citrus finish. Serve with hors d'oeuvres; crab stuffed sole; oysters on a half shell; simply prepared shellfish dishes.” My notes: The 2007 vintage was on the shelves - not the 2008 as shown in the Promo. Aerate twenty minutes for a fresher, delicate aroma of stone fruit and citrus. A crisp mix of mild lemon and apple, mineral tinged finishing with light flavours lingering then leaving a slight lemon and chalk. A very clean chardonnay that should cellar for several years but not improve. Would be well accepted with a cold buffet or to have with fresh oysters, crab cakes or mild fish entrees. 88

MASI CAMPOFIORIN ‘ROSSO DEL VERONESE’ 2006, Veneto, Italy, 13.0% D, #155051 $17.45 (Tasted November 21, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Ruby red colour; dry with a complex nose of plums, prunes, leather, cinnamon spice and violets; dry, medium-to full-bodied with generous fruit on the palate; a nice backbone of spice and tannins. Serve with red meat, sharp cheeses, osso bucco, wild mushroom risotto, veal parmigiana.” My notes: A deep black cherry colour and aromas of cherries, raisins and leather. The silky texture shifts into a soft tannin, a polite tang and flavours of fresh cherries possibly with a slight cedar plank edge. On the light side of medium-bodied makes this a thin sipper but with enough to be a match for tomato pizzas or pastas, veal parmigiana for sure as well as a triple cheese and ground meat lasagna. Finishes long, dry with some bramble. Cellaring for several years could possibly add more smoothness but drinking well now.  88

J. LOHR ESTATES ‘ARROYO SECO’ CHARDONNAY 2007, San Jose, California, 13.5% D, #258699 $19.05* (Tasted November 18, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Deep yellow colour; ripe apple, pear, melon & vanilla aromas; dry, medium to full-bodied; creamy texture & peachy, oaky notes on the palate; well-balanced with a long finish. Serve with grilled or roasted poultry dishes, pork with apple sauce or caramelized onions.” My notes:This has a golden hue and faint aromas of pear, apple and a vanilla note, not that distinct. Nicely rounded with a touch of butterscotch on grassy melon and citrus flavours which continue into a long mild lemon finish. OK for C sippers and should carry itself well with seafood dishes: halibut and chips, panfried red snapper, telapia or salmon steak. A drink now and even cellaring for a few years should do well.  83

FLOR DE CRASTO 2007, Douro, Portugal, 12.5% XD, #089870 $10.95 (Tasted November 18, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “A rich and medium bodied wine that shows flavours of rich berry fruits with hints of spice and a soft round finish. Serve with beef or hard cheeses.” My notes A light plum nose with a sharp edge, a deep plum shade in the bowl with a firm film and slow tears. The tang with the first sip startles the buds as does the warm buildup of tang in the long finish covering much of the full fruit flavours. Cherry, black berry, peppers, leather, tars combine for a full-bodied bold sipper. Open this up to an hour before a spicy meal of chili con carne, lamb brisket, loaded burgers or Barberian rubbed ribs. Cellaring for several years may tame some roughness although there should be lots left if that’s your taste. 85

MALIVOIRE RED 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 13.0% D, #141523 $14.95 (Tasted October 4, 2009) CS

A General listing described by the winery as “An inviting nose of raspberry, cherry, vanilla and cedar emerge from this blend of 45% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Gamay. The palate greets you with flavours of plum, black currant, dark chocolate and a long finish.” My notes: A deep ruby regal in appearance, a nose of subtle black cherry and spice, and a firm film with few slow legs all make this attractive in the glass. The first sip also has subtlety in its flavours along with a smooth texture and bright edge, medium-bodied. The finish starts mellow fading slowly as red cherry and plum mix with fine tannins, cedar and dryness that leaves the mouth refreshed. Have with grilled T-bone or rack of lamb, beef tenderloin or a seared pork chop - a flexible, polite red. Young yet and could cellar for several years increasing in complexity. Gets points for potential.  90

Sunday, November 01, 2009

November 2009 Wines: 30 Tasted of 30

Some of the grapes taking part in this month‘s wines are shown (photos from Wikipedia). When tasted, wines are listed red then white each sequenced by rating. Cheers, Ww

  • Fess Parker ‘Santa Barbera County’ Syrah 2006, 93-2 -- O, California, USA, #Other, $24.95US (g)
  • Apaltagua Envero Gran Reserva ‘Apalta Vineyard Selection’ 2007, 92-3 -- V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #129973 $15.95 
  • Casa Tamaya ‘Estate Bottled’ Syrah Reserva 2008, 90-2 -- V, Limari Valley, Chile, #135418 $13.95
  • Familia Zuccardi Fuzion Alta Reserve Malbec 2008, 90-2 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #135475 $9.95
  • Monte Antico Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2006, 90-2 -- V, Tuscany, Italy, #069377 $14.95
  • Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2006, 89-1 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #079293 $16.95
  • Familia Zuccardi Fuzion Organic Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon, 88-2 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #127456 $12.95
  • La Chamiza ‘Polo Professional’ Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007, 86-1 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #128595 $12.95
  • Alta Vista Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 85 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #129957 $14.95
  • Familia Zuccardi Shiraz Malbec 2009, 84 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #083188 $7.45
  • Sogrape Grão Vasco Dão 2006, 82 -- G, Dão, Portugal, #014977 $8.95
  • Vina Maipo Reserva Merlot 2008, 80 -- V, Rapel Valley, Chile, #135236 $13.95
  • Ravazzi Chianti Riserva 2006, 80 -- V, Tuscany, Italy, #135657 $16.95
  • Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône - Villages 2007, 79* -- G, Rhône, France, #391458 $12.95
  • Malenchini Chianti 2008, 79 -- V, Tuscany, Italy, #134783 $13.95
  • Wolf Blass Yellow Label Merlot 2006, 70 -- G, South Australia, #538637 $16.45
  • Tekiah Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 69 -- V, Mendoza, Australia, #130286 $14.95

  • Crown Bench Estates Livia’s Gold 2000 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 95-2 -- O, Beamsville, Ontario, #Winery (375mL) $34.95
  • McManis Family Vineyards Viognier 2007, 89-1 -- O, San Joaquin Valley, California, #658112, $21.95
  • Thorn-Clarke Barossa Eden Valley Chardonnay 2008, 88-1 -- V, Eden Valley, Australia, #651349 $14.95
  • Woolshed Chardonnay 2007, 88-1 -- O, Victoria, Australia, #Agent $15.95
  • Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Riesling 2008, 87-1 -- V, South Australia, #625129 $15.95
  • Sogrape Gazela Vinho Verde NV, 86-1 -- G, Portugal, #141432 $8.95
  • Jekel Vineyards ‘Gravelstone’ Chardonnay 2007, 86 -- V, Monterey, USA, #421016 $15.95
  • Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008, 86 -- V, Margaret River, Australia, #047621 $15.95
  • Familia Zuccardi Argentina Brut NV, 85 -- G, Mendoza, Argentina, #n/a $12.50
  • Aveleda Vinho Verde Fonte 2008, 85 -- G, Portugal, #005322 $8.95
  • Giovello Prosecco NV, 82 -- G, Veneto, Italy, #085316 $14.95
  • Errazuriz Estate Chardonnay 2008, 81 -- G, Casablanca Valley, Chile, #318741 $10.95
  • Gabbiano Pinot Grigio 2008, 61 -- G, Venezie, Italy, #077990 $12.95
 (G - General, V - Vintages, O - Other, * - see Tasting notes, g - gift, r-v - Rating-Value)


FESS PARKER ‘SANTA BARBERA COUNTY’ SYRAH 2006, California, USA, 16.4% D, #Other, $24.95US, (Tasted November 28, 2009)

A gift from a generous guest and muchly appreciated by this host. The website references a number of critic ratings: 88/100 by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and 90/100 by The Wine Spectator. Just under 2000 cases made from grapes grown in the Santa Ynez valley and described as “On the nose you will find aromas of blackberries, smoke, pressed meats with BBQ spices, blueberries and vanilla. Deep, full flavours of blackberries, chocolate, boysenberries and black liquorice will lead to a long lingering finish.” My notes: A marvellous colour in the bowl, rich ruby magenta and deep scents of delicate blackberries, possibly vanilla and cinnamon. A swirl shows a firm film with very gradual tears. Lusciously velvety, well established fine tannins and spiced edged ripe, juicy fruit leaving a long delicious, dry finish - some leather at the end. Sit and sip, have with chocolates or pair with a rare filet mignon, lamb chops or beef Wellington - nothing too savoury just juicy and flavourful to let the wine show. Cellaring for several years shouldn’t be a problem.  93

CASA TAMAYA ‘ESTATE BOTTLED’ SYRAH RESERVA 2008, Limari Valley, Chile, 14.0% C, #135418 $13.95 (Tasted November 1, 2009) CS
A Vintages release on October 10, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (April 2009) as “… Filled with aromas of blackberry, pepper, game and mocha, this well-typed Syrah is dry and fruity, with fine acidity and a good core of tannin to supply balance. Enjoy this wine now with grilled lamb chops, or cellar it 2-3 years.” My notes: This has a firm film with slow tears showing through deep purple ruby. Full-bodied but smooth with a good bite and noticeable tannins gives the first sip interest. Flavours of black berries, coffee and faint cedar are balanced with earth tones. This has some depth yet to increase with a short time in the cellar. Flavours carry through to a long finish that ends with a chalky dryness. Have with prime rib, T-bone or ribs. A good value. 90

FAMILIA ZUCCARDI FUZION ORGANIC MALBEC CABERNET SAUVIGNON, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #127456 $12.95 (Tasted November 1, 2009) CS

A General listing described on the label as “… produced by handpicked grapes. It’s a deep lively red with complex notes of ripe red fruit and long pleasant finish… “ My notes: The Familia Zuccardi website doesn’t list the ‘Fuzion’ label. The vintage year isn’t on this label, although SAQ (Quebec) lists it as a 2009. There’s a purple hue to the ruby and aromas of mild plum just tease the senses. My bottle had a short cork leaving small pieces floating. The first sip starts with velvet mouthfeel and flavours of ripe blackberry touched with a red currant brightness lasts into a long dry finish. Appealing for its softness - medium-bodied, bright for sipping but not enough for spicy foods: pair with prime rib, a ham slice or a tuna or swordfish steak. Likely could cellar short term. 88

FAMILIA ZUCCARDI FUZION ALTA RESERVE MALBEC 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #135475 $9.95 (Tasted October 26, 2009) CS

A General listing described on the label as “A medium-bodied red wine with powerful aromas of plum, cocoa and black currants leading into a long finish, dominated by soft sweet tannins.” My notes: A scant aroma of black fruit, plums and blackberries mainly. Long slow legs with a firm film and a colour of rich opaque ruby. The first sip is velvety smooth with fresh black fruit, a light acid and backbone of fine sweet tannins. Not bold, not demonstrative but a pleasing sipper, medium-bodied in texture and mild in approach, well balanced. Have with grilled meats not overly spiced. 90

ALTA VISTA PREMIUM CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #129957 $14.95 (Tasted November 25, 2009) CS

Release by Vintages on October 24, 2009 and described anonymously (undated) as “… This Cabernet was aged in 50% American and 50% French oak for one year, imparting toasty coconut and vanilla notes to the ripe blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Enjoy with rare roast beef seasoned with garden-fresh herbs.” My notes: A surprisingly light nose given the oak treatment… some red currant and some cherry - aerate or let breathe twenty minutes. A lightish medium-body with thin film and fast tears. The colour is bright ruby and the first sip comes with some berry and bramble, a firm fine tannin and solid tartness but not enough to be bold. Finishes dry, mellow with a nutty edge. Have with prime rib, T-bone, rack of lamb or rolled veal with sage stuffing. Cellaring for several years may introduce more textures but a drink now.  85

MONTE ANTICO SANGIOVESE / MERLOT / CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2006, Tuscany, Italy, 12.5% XD, #069377 $14.95 (Tasted October 28, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on October 24, 2009 rated 90/100 and described by The Wine Spectator (Oct 2009) as “Bright plum, dried cherries and flowers on the nose. Full-bodied, with fine tannins and refined berry and cherry flavours. Drink now. Best Value.” My notes: A blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and a very appealing deep ruby in the glass with soft aromas of truffle, black cherry and plum. A firm film with very slow tears gives some indication of the silky texture of bright red currants and white cherries. A medium-bodied red, light in character and fresh in approach. Have with anything Italian in a full flavoured tomato sauce. Also with roast beef tenderloin, ribs or rack of lamb. There’s enough fruit but no excess tannins for some cellaring, say two years. A good value. 90

RAVAZZI CHIANTI RISERVA 2006, Tuscany, Italy, 13.0% XD, #135657 $16.95 (Tasted Novmber 24, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on October 24, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “The Ravazzi family has being making wine at their estate in Siena for 50 years. Their new wine cellar, built in 2005, is decidedly modern yet home to classically fashioned wines, such as this pretty Chianti Riserva. Bursting with red fruit and accented by nuances of smoked meat, this food-friendly wonder is just the thing for your next gourmet pizza night; or try it with a cheese lasagna.” My notes: A sombre red full of dark hues and a swirl that brings lots of quick tears. Let breathe for at least thirty minutes for a scent of walnuts and delicate cherries, evenly divided. Classically fashioned must mean ‘old world‘ which this is. Although the approach is fresh the fruit is masked by process, ‘smoked meat’ for sure. A meal red to have with tomato pastas, veal scallopine, flavourful stews. Limited appeal as a sipper and personally not a preferred style. Cellaring for a few more years should be OK - it won’t change though. 80

CROWN BENCH ESTATES LIVIA’S GOLD 2000 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Ontario, 9.0% S, #Winery (375mL) $34.95* (Tasted November 5, 2009)

From their website “A Crown Bench innovation in the style of Sauterne, an early harvest Botrytis Affected Chardonnay. This wine captures the ultimate richness of a berry-by-berry selected harvest. Clean and floral, with a hint of dry honey. Lots of flavours at work, from orange to kumquat, peach and citrus marmalade. The natural acidity carries the weight of this wine… pairs perfectly with Chinese cuisine, cream soups, any rich pastry, it is especially delectable with foie gras, or alone as an ultimate dessert wine.” My notes: Originally purchase from the winery several years ago and the price is approximate. Liquid gold in colour with a Sultana raisin aroma, silky on the first sip and flavours of honey, ripe peach pear, a light citrus for tang and a dollop of sweetness all carrying through a long scrumptious finish. Full-bodied and a Sauterne style, it would be a shame to accompany with anything that would take away the flavours but foie gras sounds right. 95

'SKUTTLEBUTT' SAUVIGNON BLANC SEMILLON 2008, Margaret River, Australia, 12.5% D, #047621 $15.95 (Tasted October 27, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on October 24, 2009 rated 92/100 by Australian critic James Halliday (Feb 2009) and described as “ Fresh and breezy, but there is a lot of flavour to be had, redcurrant and passionfruit at opposite ends of the spectrum, bound by appealing citrussy acidity. Drink [until] 2012. My notes: A blend of 57% Sauvignon, 35% Semillon and 8% Chardonnay. The 2006 vintage, released by Vintages in December 2007 and priced $17.95, was tasted in April last year and rated Ww88. This has a pale straw colour and nose of peas and nettles, some gooseberry and scant passionfruit. The film is firm with slow tears and the texture is smooth, more peas and citrus, a cloudberry presence this time with a nice bite and leaving a strong and long mineral finish. An OK sipper and with a shellfish or a whitefish entrée. Did not go well with chicken skewers lightly lemon’d. I found it to have an unusual flavour - perhaps the chard - difficult to pair.  86

GABBIANO PINOT GRIGIO 2008, Venezie, Italy, 12.5% D, #077990 $12.95 (Tasted October 25, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale yellow colour; aromas of ripe pear, citrus with tropical notes; dry, light bodied, with citrus, mineral and apple flavours; medium long finish. Serve with light fish dishes, seafood salads, appetizers and bacon wrapped scallops.” My notes: A Foster’S Wine Estates company and a Beringer Blass Italia label. This has a normal light blond colour and to this adds a scant pond scum aroma giving some indication of the first sip. The flavour is lacking the bright character and the balance of a pinot grigio. The finish is almost bland with a slight tartness and minimal natural fruit to make this a non starter as a sipper or as a meal white. Did not pair with a vegetarian quiche. Not recommended. 61

LA CHAMIZA ‘POLO PROFESIONAL’ CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE 2007, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #128595 $12.95 (Tasted November 3, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on September 12, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “… Polo Professional is the winery's reserve line and this Cabernet was aged for 6 months in French oak before bottling. It's dry, full-bodied with ripe blackcurrant, pepper, clove and coffee flavours. Serve it with grilled pepper steaks.” My notes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley. This wine may be ‘closed‘. The nose is subdued with underlying black currant essence. Berry and currant flavours reluctantly show
themselves although the tannin is well developed and builds on the palate. A tame acid seam follows through with a currant ending on a predominant woody note. This is a well made cabernet sauvignon, medium-bodied, dry, some spice and slight liquorice to pair with grilled meats and stews. Cellaring for two years may improve this further and at the price it’s worth the try. 86

ERRAZURIZ ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2008, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #318741 $10.95 (Tasted November 1, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated), unchanged from last vintage, as “Bright yellow colour; rich pineapple and banana with vanilla aromas; full-bodied, creamy and lush with pineapple fruit, baked applet and buttery, vanilla/nut flavours. Try with lobster, grilled chicken, duck a l'orange, herb crusted pork chops.” My notes: I rated the 2007 vintage at Ww94 saying ‘each sip brings interest’. The 2008 has a pale straw colour with light grassy and mild perfume aromas leading to a first sip that is dry, has a nice nip level and flavours of honey and citrus that slowly fade to an off-dry stemmy warmth. I’d say this is interesting and somewhat a puzzle, a white looking for a grape. Not an unpleasant sipper for a large gathering and a lightish medium-bodied white to match with light seafood entrées. As a pairing with crab cakes or cold party shrimp it’s economical large crowd beverage. A drink now. 81

APALTAGUA ENVERO GRAN RESERVA ‘APALTA VINEYARD SELECTION’ 2007, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 14.0% XD, #129973 $15.95 (Tasted November 19, 2009) CS

A Vintage release on August 29, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “This wine earned Gold Medals this year at both the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and Monde Selection International Wine Contest. Made with Carmenère and a dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon, this expressive wine features lovely aromas and flavours of cherry, blackberry, mint and cigar tobacco. Dry, rich and ripe, this wine is an exceptional value and an excellent partner for grilled rare leg of lamb.” My notes: A blend of 93% Carmenère and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon from sixty year old vines gives this a rich, deep ruby colour and a nose with a scent of faint mint and tobacco on black berries. Bright, almost zesty, fruit that kicks off a long finish of succulent berries, dry and refreshing. If possible, almost too flavourful as a sipper but would be an interesting partner to rack of lamb, a clove’d ham steak or beef tenderloin. Cellar several years to increase depth, soften texture and some youthfulness. 92

SOGRAPE GAZELA VINHO VERDE NV, Portugal, 9.0% D, #141432 $8.95 (Retasted October 31, 2009) CS

My notes: This is now a house regular as a spritzy cooler in the summer, as a refesher before a meal or as a casual sipper given the notion for a light sipper. Served chilled there’s tiny and soft bubbles throughout each sip. A delicate fruit blossom nose and a dry tangy ending to lime and green apple flavours. An accompaniment to an informal cold buffet but not a replacement for a meal white… unless it’s a variety of tapas you know will fit. A drink now to a year. 86

AVELEDA VINHO VERDE FONTE 2008, Portugal, 10.0% MD, #005322 $8.95 (Tasted November 2, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale lemon yellow colour; pear, apple and citrus aromas and flavours; light, clean, and refreshing with a spritzy finish. Serve with oysters, grilled shrimp or deep fried calamari.” My notes: This has a light straw colour and a delicate scent of beeswax. The thin film on the glass gives an indication of the light-bodied crispness, almost spritzy, found in the first sip. Mineral tinged and bright, refreshing and delicately flavoured of lime and apple increasing with each sip and carrying into a long finish. A sipper before supper or during afternoon snacks, or just about anytime, the summer especially. A value drink now. 85

GIOVELLO PROSECCO NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.0% D, #085316 $14.95 (Tasted November 4, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Pale straw colour; aromas of citrus, pears and pineapple; dry, lively bubbles, zesty citrus and pear flavours. Serve with appetizers or brunch.” My notes: Large bubbles followed a stream of fine and a continuing spritz during sips. This has a delicate straw colour, very light, and similarly a delicate aroma of yeast and stone fruit. The tang to refresh and light lime, soft clementine reminders and a mineral dryness blend well into a long finish. Have with fresh oysters, grilled scallops or cold shrimp. A straightforward bubbly with just a light creaminess. 82

SOGRAPE GRÃO VASCO DÃO 2006, Dão, Portugal, 12.5% D, #014977 $8.95 (Tasted November 5, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Ruby/garnet red; plumy, berry fruit aromas and flavours with leather nuances; medium- to full-bodied with a prolonged finish. Serve with grilled sausages; hearty stews; roast beef.” My notes: A deep ruby with a garnet cast and light aroma of an earthy plum, red cherry and ripe berry mix. A swirl shows a thin film with a few slow tears and the first sip starts silky followed quickly by dry tannins coating flavours of red currant and berry then ending with a bright bramble. On the light side of medium-bodied - a dry sipper and a match for tomato sauced dishes, pastas or pizzas, or a lamb pot roast or braised back ribs. A drink now. 82 (Aerating or decanting could add 2 points.)

LOUIS BERNARD CÔTES DU RHÔNE - VILLAGES 2007, Rhône, France, 14.0% D, #391458 $12.95 (Tasted November 6, 2009) CS

A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Medium ruby colour; spice, plum, red currant and strawberry aromas and flavours with hints of earthiness, cinnamon and candied fruit; light- to medium-bodied with a clean finish. Serve with roast turkey, Mediterranean dishes, pepper steak, stews or cheeses like brie and medium cheddar.” My notes: Decanted and sloshed around, a practice started with young or lower priced wines. The nose is noticeable by its absence and the first sip is tart, woody with faint cinnamon accents of an undefined terroir and lasts into a long, dry, unremarkable finish. Not a sipper. Some will but most will not relate to the subtle flavouring - it's not one I'll repeat. Have with prime rib or beef Wellington. A drink now. 79.  PS. I was surprised to see how much this had improved left two days open - I'd say closer to 84

Two bottles in a gift package, their Shiraz/Malbec 2009 (#083188, $7.45) reviewed October, 2009 and a sparkling Brut (#n/a, $12.50)
FAMILIA ZUCCARDI BRUT ARGENTINA NV, Mendoza, Argentina, 12.5% D, #n/a $n/a (Tasted November 10, 2009)

The back label says “… a harmonious blend of our finest grapes. … elegant bouquet of honey, green apples and pineapple fragrances, combined with fresh creamy and delicate fresh fruit flavours. … as an aperitif or [with] seafood dishes… “ My notes: With the red blend at $7.45 the Brut becomes $12.50. A blond colour and there’s a steady stream of tiny bubbles on pouring , not profuse. There’s a delicate fruit floral in the nose, natural and not extreme… and the first sip confirms a sprightly spritz supporting Clementine and lime flavours, well balanced, interesting as well as pleasing and polite. Meant for the motley (my family) crew rather than the champagne crowd (your family?). Save one for yacht christening, the rest for the deck in the summer or casual sipping before a seafood meal from the galley.  85
FAMILIA ZUCCARDI FUZION SHIRAZ MALBEC 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% D, #083188 $7.45 (Retasted November 12, 2009) CS
My notes: Tasted last month and rated Ww84. On opening the nose is a subdued blend of plums, berries and black cherries and the colour, a purple tinted ruby. Medium-bodied, smooth with a pleasing brightness but flavours of blackberries, cherries and a touch of spice are fairly shallow, not well defined. The finish carries a touch of sweetness and spice with fine tannins. Then I decanted, sloshed and let breathe twenty minutes. No change in nose but a slight mellowness introduced to the texture, a softness to unchanged flavours and a finish with pronounced dryness.  Conclusion: There are slight changes in texture and the notion of sweetness. The same minor changes could be experienced during a casual sipping over the same period of time and would not be perceptible with a meal. An open bottle paired with rack of lamb three days later was delectable.  84

LUIGI BOSCA RESERVA MALBEC 2006, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D, #079293 $16.95 (Tasted November 9, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on September 26, 2009, rated 90/100 and described by James Molesworth (October 2009) as “Full ruby-red. Musky, vinous aromas of blackberry, mocha, espresso and tobacco. Suave, juicy and palate-coating, with a distinctly saline element adding complexity to the flavours of raspberry, tobacco, smoke and green olive. Finishes with fine-grained tannins and lovely aromatic lift. A distinctly soil-inflected wine with loads of personality-and an excellent value.” (or alternatively by Stephen Tanzer of the International Wine Cellar, Jan./Feb. 2009) My notes: Vintages confused the credits on this one. 100% Malbec grapes from the La Linda vineyard at the 960m level at Lujan de Cuyo went into this red then spending twelve months in French oak barrels to produce a deep ruby colour and aromas of earthy berry and plum taint. The first sip is bright, with drying tannins and a suspicion of Brettanomyces to offer a cheesy edge to flavours of red currants. An old world style sipper that should carry well with grilled sausage or flavourful stews and should cellar well for several years. 89 

JEKEL VINEYARDS ‘GRAVELSTONE’ CHARDONNAY 2007, Monterey, USA, 13.5% D, #421016 $15.95 (Tasted November 11, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on November 7, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “… a big, crowd-pleasing, affordable Chardonnay… Packed with tropical fruit, pear, melon and sweet vanilla notes, this is a full-bodied, generous and rich effort that is sure to impress your guests. Pair it with crab cakes with a spicy aioli dipping sauce.” My notes: A pale gold colour and delicate floral nose. A thin film, no legs but medium-bodied with the flavour of a pineapple, pear and sweet berry blend followed by a warm, mineral finish. Has some interest as a dry, unoaked chardonnay sipper and paired nicely with pan fried lake trout and asparagus. A drink now and cellaring is unlikely - should keep a year but not improve.  86

THORN-CLARKE TERRA BAROSSA EDEN VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2008, Eden Valley, Australia, 14.0% D, #651349 $14.95 (Tasted November 9, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on November 7, 2009 described anonymously (undated) as “Abutting the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley has developed a reputation for producing marvellous white wines, such as this fine, smoky, fruity and crisp Chardonnay. An exceptional partner for lobster, crab legs, grilled herbed chicken or poached salmon, this Chard is held together in perfect balance by a ripe acidity.” My notes: This needs a few minutes to show scents of pear and slight apple blossom. The first sip is round with an interesting tart lemon, stone fruit and green apple blend, very delicate and bright. Almost a tooth cleaner for a long crisp finish, appealing for its intensity. This paired well with crab crepes and béchamel sauce sided by asparagus. Cellaring for several years is a possibility.  88

TEKIAH CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2007, Mendoza, Australia, 12.9% D, #130286 $14.95 (Tasted November 24, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on November 7 , 2009 described by (Dec 22, 2008) as “A very deep red color, with violet tints. Tekiah's elegant aromas are balanced and complex. Beautifully expressed flavours of red fruit and black pepper. Kosher for Passover.” My notes: By the nose this has been well oaked giving an acrid whiff to stewed prune changing to fermented cherry aromas. The film is firm with slow tears and the first sip is very dry, astringent as a chokecherry, and lasting long on the palate. Deep ruby colouring sets this off as a cabernet sauvignon but there are no black currants detectable. Not a sipper. Have with roast beef, grilled back ribs or pepper steak. 69
VIÑA MAIPO RESERVA MERLOT 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile, 13.5% D, #135236 $13.95 (Tasted November 12, 2009) CS

Released by Vintages on November 7, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (March 2009) as “Aromatic Merlot with tons of red fruit, spice box and blackberry aromas. Dry with lots of fruit and oak but in perfect balance as both elements are strong enough to completely complement each other. Medium-bodied with a substantial fruit/oak finish. Try with grilled steaks or gourmet sausages.” My notes: A ruby colour and no discernible aromas, fruit or otherwise. The first sip has a silkiness, a mild tang, a faint ‘spice box’? yes, and some berry flavouring. Medium-bodied with a soft finish carrying the flavours forward ending with a mild mineral tang. An economical sipper for a general crowd - won’t impress but no objections either. Have with mild grilled meats, cold turkey or ham. A drink now. 80

WOLF BLASS YELLOW LABEL MERLOT 2006, South Australia, 13.5% D, #538637 $16.45 (Retasted November 16, 2009) CS
A General listing described anonymously (undated) as “Deep ruby colour; smoky, red plum, spring cherry and blackberry aromas; dry, medium bodied, very fruit driven, with cherry/berry fruit flavours, soft tannins, oaky finish. Serve with veal or lamb.” My notes: Previously tasted in October 2008 and rated Ww68. Received another so thought it time to retaste. This has a deep ruby colour with a slight purple cast. The nose isn’t and a swirl gives a firm but thin film collecting slowly into a few slow tears. Medium-bodied, cherry/berry flavours with a mineral and wood seam evolving into a long, chokecherry finish. Not a sipper but needing spicy grilled beef, stews or pepperoni and anchovies pizza to quell the taste. Perhaps an acquired taste... not mine. 70

YALUMBA ‘THE Y SERIES’ RIESLING 2008, South Australia, 12.5% XD, #625129 $15.95 (Tasted November 16, 2009) CS

A Vintages release on October 10, 2009 rated 91/100 and described by Australian critic James Halliday (Nov 2008) as “An intense bouquet with crushed citrus leaf/lemon zest aromas; the palate is refined and elegant in a light-bodied mode. Top value. Drink [until] 2013.” My notes: Has a light straw colour with a light lemon scent and a thin film with a few slow tears showing on the bowl. A strong but soft lemon flavour in the first sip leads to a long finish layering the palate with citrus, dry, building to a pucker. A social sipper, for a summer day or with seafood appetizers, salty crackers or shrimp pieces. Flavours didn’t compete with apricot and rosemary glazed chicken breast and roast potatoes. 87

McMANIS FAMILY VINEYARDS VIOGNIER 2007, San Joaquin Valley, California, 13.5% D, #658112, $21.95 (Tasted November 21, 2009) CS

My notes: Purchased from The Vine/robert groh agency in Toronto after sharing a bottle with friends at Boo’s Bistro in Hamilton. A firm film with slow tears reflects the viscosity of this golden coloured white. Off chill (14C), the nose is faint at first accumulating in the bowl to be a delicate apple blossom. Flavours and texture are the main attraction of this white. Stone fruit, tart apple, melon flavours tinged with grass is of interest for sipping and the warm buttery aspect was great with PEI mussels and breads dipped in the light creamy broth. Cellaring a few years should be OK but primarily a drink now.  89 

WOOLSHED CHARDONNAY 2007, Victoria, Australia, 13.5% D, #Agent $15.95 (Tasted November 24, 2009)

The back label says “… richly flavoured wine with peach and citrus notes, subtle oak and a fresh, lingering finish. Drink now or cellar two to three years.” My notes: Purchased from Stem Wine Group Inc. after enjoying a glass or two at a local restaurant. Let go off chill (14C+) for a delicate aroma of grass and citrus. A straw blond shows a thin film with a few slow tears. The first sip brings a medium-bodied smooth texture and light citrus flavours that carry through to a long, dry, warm finish and a touch of stone fruit. A very acceptable sipper for a nonABC crowd. Lightly oaked, if at all, with a little cream, just enough to say it‘s there. Went very well with grilled cheddar sandwich with asparagus and cilantro soup. Would go nicely with light fishes or shellfish entrées. Cellaring two years tops. 88

MALENCHINI CHIANTI 2008, Tuscany, Italy, 14.0% XD, #134783 $13.95 (Tasted November 27, 2009) CS
Released by Vintages on October 10, 2009 described by the Vintages panel (April 2009) as “Good viscosity and fine tannins dominate this good-value, well-made wine. Primary aromas suggest Bing cherry, blackberry and underbrush. Dry, brightly fruity, with a fine acidity adding balance. Enjoy it tonight with grilled lamb chops or age it 3+ years.” My notes: A Stem Group wine, this time purchased from Vintages. This has the colour of bright black cherries, a smooth earth and plum aroma that takes time to develop and a moderate film with fast legs. A high tannin level starts from the first sip and lasts through a long finish needing a pasta dish for accompaniment. Flavours reflect young or unripe fruit with a brambly tart edge. Have with tomato pizzas or panserotti filled with cheese. Although better, it brings back memories of our neighbour’s homemade red - a niche wine.  79